Washington D.C. – October 6, 2016 – On the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Jon Rainwater, the executive director of the United States’ largest peace organization, Peace Action, released the following statement:
“After fifteen years of endless war, Americans need to demand answers from the Obama administration and Congress on two crucial questions. First, is this longest war in U.S. history making us safer? Second, has it been worth the immense cost in lives and billions of dollars? The only honest answer to both questions is a resounding no. Instead, we need a new strategy that leads through diplomacy and support for strong governance, humanitarian aid and development in conflict zones.
“The war has claimed the lives of 2,346 American service members, including Army Staff Sgt. Adam Thomas who lost his life on Tuesday. It has also claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians, exacerbating anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan and elsewhere and undermining American security. Despite the sacrifice of American and Afghan soldiers, and long-term costs of trillions to taxpayers, Afghanistan remains engulfed in violence with no end in sight. In fact, as Obama leaves more troops in Afghanistan than planned, the Pentagon has said it will ask for more money from Congress — likely in the billions of dollars.
“A strategic withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan is long overdue and should be a priority of the next administration. A military withdrawal does not mean the U.S. does not have a critical role to play in Afghanistan. On the contrary, the U.S. has an obligation to support non-military approaches to the conflict, as well as invest in robust humanitarian aid, extensive rebuilding efforts, and a stronger civil society, all of which will help heal the wounds of a devastating war and facilitate an eventual end to the fighting. With election day around the corner, Americans deserve to know what (if any) plans the candidates for commander in chief have for bringing our nation’s longest war to an end, because ‘stay the course’ isn’t going to cut it.
“Lastly, Congress should repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that authorized the war in Afghanistan, and debate and vote on whether or not to authorize ongoing military operations in Afghanistan. The 2001 AUMF was passed in an effort to bring the perpetrators of 9/11 to justice, and that goal has largely been accomplished. By authorizing military action with vague descriptions of acceptable targets and no geographic or time limits, Congress has effectively placed the question of whether or not this country goes to war – and whether or not it remains at war – in the hands of one individual, and such an affront to the Constitution cannot be allowed to continue.”
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace-Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika